Lions tour: String of migraines to end unlucky Payne's Lions Tour
Jared Payne's Lions tour looks to be all but over with the news that he is still battling migraines and management are unable to put a time-scale on his return to action. Ulster's Kiwi-born centre was a late scratch from the final midweek match against the Hurricanes last Tuesday, and had to remain in Wellington while his team-mates headed to Queenstown for some down time before Saturday's decisive third Test with the All Blacks in Auckland (8.35am kick-off).
The 31-year-old, who also missed the first game of the tour with a calf injury, took a knock to the head against the Chiefs on June 20 but Lions head of medicine Dr Eanna Falvey said the tourists do not believe the headaches are linked to concussion.
"Jared is undergoing some tests independent of concussion at the moment, he's had migraines," he confirmed.
"He had a bang in the Chiefs game from which he recovered fully, he was fully cleared from concussion in the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) process and a subsequent specialist review.
"But he's been struggling with migraine and that's an independent process since then."
Payne has endured a string of rotten luck on the injury front over the past 12 months, missing the start of the 2016/17 campaign before being ruled out for three months with a serious kidney issue picked up on Ireland duty last November.
Even after being selected for a first Lions tour, he had his fair share of scares, injuring an ankle in his next game out for Ulster and then picking up the calf niggle.
Falvey though has eased fears, saying the migraines are “nothing concerning”.
“Thankfully all his tests have been good, there’s nothing concerning there but he’s suffering from migrainous symptoms at the moment.
“The specialist who saw him in Wellington is quite happy with him. We have a couple more minor tests to do which are still outstanding, that will give us more idea of when (he’ll return).
“There’s nothing of concern at the moment, it’s just while he still has a headache he won’t be training at the moment.”
There was worse news, however, for Payne’s Irish midfield partner Robbie Henshaw who is set to miss the start of next season with Leinster after tearing his pectoral muscle off the bone.
Now returning to Dublin for surgery, the former Connacht man is set to be out for up to four months making him a massive doubt for both his province’s opening games in next season’s Champions Cup and Ireland’s November Tests against Argentina, South Africa and Fiji.
In general, though, the physical toll on the Lions has been less than is usually expected.
Of the original 41-man squad, only five players have been definitively ruled out of Saturday’s third Test, with Billy Vunipola pulling out before the departure and Stuart Hogg, Ross Moriarty, George North and now Henshawsince returning home.
“It’s very pleasing for us,” added Falvey. “We’ve worked very closely with the strength and conditioning team. We meet every morning and go through the entire squad. The monitoring that is done on a daily basis adds in it’s own way to keeping an eye on guys and there’s a large slice of luck involved as well.
“There’s no real preparation for impact injuries which occur and we’ve been really lucky to date on that, but we’ve tried to control the controllables and to that end it’s been excellent.
“Other than some bumps and bruises, which have really been helped by a couple of days off, we’ve got a full deck to deal from.
“We’re at the end of a really hectic schedule, we’ve got guys playing who have come out of a domestic season where really nobody is playing without a bump or a bruise of some kind. We’ve then gone through a pretty rigorous schedule and some very competitive games.”